The MIT Media Lab has launched a new research initiative to develop a $100 laptop—a technology that could revolutionize how we educate the world's children.
"U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan unveiled the first working prototype of the $100 laptop Nov. 16 at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia. Annan was joined by Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and co-founder of the Media Lab at MIT, in presenting the laptop to the gathering.
The $100 laptop, first announced by Negroponte at the World Economic Forum in January 2005, is an ultra-low-cost, full-featured computer designed to dramatically enhance children's primary and secondary education worldwide. It is a joint project of the Media Lab and the nonprofit One Laptop per Child (OLPC) association, which aims to equip the world's schoolchildren and their teachers with a personal, portable, connected computer.
"The $100 laptop is inspiring in many respects," said Annan. "It is an impressive technical achievement, able to do almost everything that larger, more expensive computers can do. It holds the promise of major advances in economic and social development. But perhaps most important is the true meaning of 'one laptop per child.' This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm. The magic lies within -- within each child, within each scientist-, scholar-, or just plain citizen-in-the-making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day."
This is nebulous nonsense. Too many people view technology as a magical charm. It isn't. Schools in the developed world have had computers in the classrooms for decades now and it hasn't improved academic performance.
This reminds me of techno libertarians like Jerry Pournelle who predicted over ten years ago that computers, online commmunication and fax machines would topple tyrannies.
Mainland China, anyone? A computer is no match for a tank or a bullet in Tianamen Square.